While Knoxville draws crowds for its growing food and music scene and college football weekends, and Sevierville and Pigeon Forge attract millions seeking Smoky Mountain kitsch, sitting just nearby is the quieter but budding destination of Maryville, Tennessee. Home to Maryville College, the Maryville is now considered one of the best places to live in Tennessee. We’d also argue it’s one of the top places to visit these days, especially if you’re looking for easy access to the outdoors, a Blackberry Farm-infused food and beverage scene, and plenty of local arts.
Get a Taste of Maryville, Tennessee
Get acquainted with the town as you check in to RT Lodge. Set on the campus of Maryville College, this tucked-away lodge once served as a corporate retreat for Ruby Tuesday, Inc., but has since been taken over by a group of locals looking to preserve and update the space. There’s a relaxed, country-lodge vibe here thanks to fire pits, a hidden landscaped garden, a cozy living room in the main lodge, and a plaid motif in the rooms. The on-site restaurant, helmed by Blackberry Farm alum executive chef Trevor Stockton, shows off with dishes like sweet corn soup with Benton’s bacon (the revered country ham smoker is just a few miles down the road) and Gulf shrimp bathed in a dill-infused broth. It’s also where you’ll find a buffet breakfast loaded with pastries, fruit, granola, eggs, and bacon.
TAKE IN TOWN CENTER IN MARYVILLE
Hop on one of a handful of cruiser bikes at RT Lodge and pedal through the campus and along the greenway, or head into the quaint downtown center. On Saturdays, a vibrant farmers market sets up shop at Founder’s Square. Follow the main drag further and you’ll reach Capitol Theatre, a restored, old Hollywood-style theater where a coffee and ice cream shop sits up front serving espresso drinks and ice cream sundaes. Next door, Bella opened earlier this year, bringing upscale Italian in a modern setting—don’t miss the “pasta in the wheel,” a tableside flambé performance that involves a massive wheel of Grana Padano.
STOCK UP ON SOUVENIRS
If you’ve been to Knoxville’s J.C. Holdway, for one, you’ve likely eaten off potter Leanne McQueen’s plates—she supplies several well-known restaurants around the South with her custom dishware. Her McQueen Pottery studio is just outside the town center and open on weekends—from coffee mugs and candles to gold-rimmed oyster plates, her pieces are bound to become keepsakes.
BUILD IN TIME FOR A BREW
Maryville now boasts a handful of breweries, like Tri-Hop near town center and Smoky Mountain Brewery, but it was the opening of Blackberry Farm Brewery’s taproom in 2019 that got Knoxvillians making the trek down this way on the regular. A food menu arrived this spring, crafted by chef Trevor Iaconis, who is also executive sous chef at Dogwood at Blackberry Farm, bringing noshes like chips and various dips (smoked onion with pickled ramps; pimento cheese made with aged Black-berry Farm cheddar) plus burgers and salads. Besides the brewery’s flagship Belgian-style saison and IPA, look for special collaborations on tap, like the Fate of Ophelia, a smooth, fruited sour made with raspberries and prickly pear
ENJOY A BITE OF THE SOUTH
Get to know more of Maryville’s food scene at Walnut Kitchen, where you’ll find a modern, farmhouse feel and menu—think locally raised beef and North Carolina mountain trout. Foothills Milling Co. digs into upscale Southern with fried green tomatoes topped with tomato chutney and spicy fried Mississippi quail. Maryville natives Micah and Rachel Talley opened Diamondjack in 2020—the fun, funky wine bar is a go-to for their robust wine list and contemporary menu to match. (Look for their new location to open in September.)
A DELECTABLE DETOUR NEAR MARYVILLE
A short drive through the foothills gets you over to Townsend, at the edge of the Smokies, where you can discover one of the South’s great new bourbons: Company Distilling, co-founded by Jeff Arnett, former master distiller at Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Here, you’ll find bottles of his maple-finished wheated bourbon, an elegantly approachable sipper, as well as Ghost Rail dry gin. The newly built tasting room now serves cocktails and will soon start brewing beers on site—but don’t leave without a bottle or two of that bourbon in tow.